Health and Safety in Our Schools

Your child’s school is taking many important precautions to help keep students and staff healthy and safe this school year. 

Watch the Video 

Learn about COVID-19 Vaccine for 5 to 11 Year-Old Children

Dr. Torian Easterling, First Deputy Commissioner and Chief Equity Officer at the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene joins Marisol Rosales, the DOE's Senior Deputy Chancellor to discuss the vaccine and answer questions.

Get Vaccinated

  • Get more information about where to get vaccinated (or call 877-VAX-4-NYC).
  • We also strongly encourage the COVID-19 vaccination for all age-eligible students.

All students and staff who participate in high-risk PSAL sports must be vaccinated against COVID-19. Students in fall high-risk sports must get their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine by their first day of competitive play. Winter and spring PSAL participants have until the beginning of their season to be fully vaccinated.

A vaccine mandate also applies to all high-risk afterschool extracurricular activities like chorus, musical theater, dance/dance team, band/orchestra (with concern for woodwinds), marching band, cheerleading/step teams/flag team. Students ages 12 and older participating in these extracurricular activities must be vaccinated in order to participate in these extracurricular activities.

School Visitor Policy

All visitors must show proof of at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccination to enter a DOE school building. Visitors do not include students attending school in a DOE school building.

Acceptable proof of vaccination is one of the following:

An acceptable COVID-19 vaccination includes one dose of any COVID-19 vaccine fully authorized or authorized for emergency use by the FDA or WHO.

Vaccination Portal

Families are encouraged to record their student’s vaccination status in the DOE's COVID-19 Vaccination Portal. Submitting this information will support New York City’s pandemic response and recovery efforts, and help ensure that DOE schools and buildings remain safe places for all students and staff.

Students and their families can access the Vaccine Portal with the student's DOE account login credentials (email and password).

The Vaccine Portal will ask you to identify the type of vaccine, where you received it (in or out of New York City) and when you received the vaccine, and will prompt you to upload the image or screenshot of the proof of vaccine.

  • Proof of vaccination can be an image of a vaccination card, NYS Excelsior Pass, or other government record.
  • Take the image or screenshot and save it to your computer for uploading into the portal.
  • The portal can be translated using Google Translate.

Privacy and Security

The privacy and security of your information will be protected by technical, physical, and administrative safeguards, including encryption. This information will be kept confidential in accordance with federal, state, and local laws.

Technical Support

If you encounter technical issues using the Vaccination Portal, please contact the DOE Help Desk by calling 718-935-5100.

Health Screening

Every student and staff member must complete the Health Screening Form prior to entering the school building each day. Anyone entering the building must confirm that they are not experiencing any symptoms of COVID-19, have not recently tested positive for COVID-19, and are not currently required to quarantine based on close contact with an infected person. If you need a thermometer to check for a fever, you can request one from your school.

If a student or staff member is feeling ill, they must stay home and get tested, which is an effective way of protecting the whole school community. Every school will have a nurse on staff to whom students can report if they are feeling ill.

Face Coverings and PPE

All students and staff must wear a face covering when riding on school buses and anywhere on school property, indoors and outdoors, regardless of vaccination status, unless they have a medical exemption. Forgot a mask? No problem—every school will have a supply on hand for children and adults.

During lunchtime, masks may be removed so students can eat comfortably at a safe distance from one another. Masks may also be removed during designated “mask breaks”, during which students will maintain physical distance from each other.

  • Students who are not medically able to tolerate masks will be provided with alternative accommodations. Requests for exemptions or accommodations can be made to your school.
  • Hand sanitizer will also be available in every classroom.

Physical Distancing in Schools

Physical distancing is another important part of our multi-layered strategy to keep our school communities safe. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) “recommends schools maintain at least 3 feet of physical distance between students within classrooms to reduce transmission risk. When it is not possible to maintain a physical distance of at least 3 feet, such as when schools cannot fully re-open while maintaining these distances, it is especially important to layer multiple other prevention strategies, such as screening testing.” Additionally, wherever possible, elementary schools will keep groups of students consistently together or have teachers move between classes in order to minimize movement of students. It is important to note that the CDC emphasizes that schools should not exclude students from in-person learning to keep a minimum distance requirement.

  • During meal service, schools will use outdoor spaces and additional spaces in school buildings where possible to support physical distancing.
  • Meals may be served in multiple locations and during multiple time periods.

Ventilation

Good ventilation is essential to prevent COVID-19. Over the past year and a half, ventilation in every single classroom across the city has been inspected, updated, and repaired as needed. Every DOE room in use by students and staff for extended periods of time will have fully operational ventilation through either natural, mechanical, or a combination of means.

As an added precaution, every classroom across New York City has been provided with two air purifiers. Cafeterias in bigger schools will be provided with large air units for added protection and window-based exhaust fans to provide additional air circulation, and we continue to increase ventilation in classrooms and schools. These measures meet or exceed guidance from the CDC.

  • You can check the ventilation status of your child’s school online: use Find a School to locate your school's page, which includes a section on Building Ventilation Information.
  • If a room in your child’s school does not have adequate ventilation, it will not be used.

Cleaning

All classrooms and common areas, such as auditoriums and gyms will have hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes available. High-touch” areas such as doorknobs and water fountains will be cleaned multiple times throughout the day, and each classroom will be deep cleaned and disinfected daily using electrostatic technology.

Outdoor Learning Continues

Last year, 840 schools took advantage of the innovative Outdoor Learning Initiative to expand their students’ “classrooms”. Schools will continue to use school yards, street space, and parks to provide additional space for learning. Schools in areas hardest hit by COVID-19 will continue to receive priority for the program.

COVID-19 Testing in Schools

Regular COVID-19 testing provides school communities and public health experts with valuable information. Continuing the successful safety practices of last year, there will be regular testing for COVID-19 in our schools.

Every school will randomly test, on a weekly basis, unvaccinated students who have submitted consent for testing. Testing will be conducted at a threshold of ten percent of unvaccinated students per school population. This way, if there is a positive case, action can be taken right away to protect the school community. Students and staff who are fully vaccinated are not required to be tested.

It is important that you provide consent for your child to participate in the in-school testing program.

Positive Cases: Closure and Quarantine

We know how important it is to keep our schools and classrooms open for learning, and we have done everything we can to make sure our classrooms are equipped to be safe learning environments, including mandating that all staff are vaccinated and ensuring increased ventilation in all school buildings and classrooms. These measures will mean fewer disruptions in your child’s education.

As of Monday, September 27, the DOE no longer automatically closes an entire classroom when there is a positive student case in that class. Students who are wearing face coverings and have maintained at least 3 feet of distance in a classroom from a student who tests positive will not be considered close contacts and will not have to quarantine.

Schools will be closed only when it is determined by the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) that there is widespread transmission in the school. With the health and safety measures in place, we expect that school closures will be limited.

Students Identified as Close Contacts in a COVID-19 Case

Who will now be considered a close contact of a positive case and therefore will need to quarantine?

A close contact is:

  • Any student within three feet of a student with COVID-19 in the classroom regardless of wearing a face covering.
  • Any student who was within six feet of student with COVID-19 when either student was unmasked,
  • Any student or adult who was within six feet of an adult with COVID-19 for more than ten minutes regardless of wearing a face covering.

How Long Does a Close Contact Have to Quarantine?

Fully vaccinated students identified as close contacts do not have to quarantine provided they remain symptom-free, but should get tested 3-5 days after their exposure. Unvaccinated students identified as close contacts must quarantine for 10 days. These students may test out of quarantine and return to school early on Day 8 if they are symptom-free and take a lab-confirmed COVID-19 test on Day 5 (or later) of quarantine and the test is negative. Proof of the negative COVID-19 test must be submitted to their school. Schools will accept an emailed test result or a paper copy of the test result.

Medically Necessary Instruction

Every year, there are some students with medical conditions that necessitate interim educational services outside of the school building. These services are offered for school-aged children (from 3K to grade 12) in all five boroughs, and can include individual in-person instruction by a certified teacher, or individual and group instruction by certified teachers through digital platforms.

Taking COVID-19 into consideration, the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) has determined that students who have one of the following conditions would be provisionally approved for medically necessary instruction:

  • Active Cancer
  • Chronic Renal Diseases
  • Sickle Cell
  • Gastro/Crohn’s Disease
  • Thalassemia
  • Leukemia
  • Metabolic Disorders
  • Heart Conditions
  • Muscular Dystrophy
  • Adrenal Disorder
  • Cystic Fibrosis
  • Liver Disease
  • Tumor
  • Congenital Lung Disease
  • Congenital Heart Condition
  • Lymphoma
  • Cerebral Ataxia
  • Seizures
  • Stroke
  • Multiple Sclerosis

Any family with a student who is immunocompromised due to a medical condition or treatment for an orthopedic, non-orthopedic/medical, or psychiatric reasons a medical condition may apply for medically necessary instruction. Applications from families with any condition not listed will undergo review to determine eligibility.

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